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Warner Bros.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in "Crazy, Stupid, Love."
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updated 7/20/2011 5:45:45 PM ET 2011-07-20T21:45:45

In his new romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love.," Ryan Gosling plays Jacob, the ultimate ladies' man, who can get women into bed faster than it takes him to flash that winning smile and sparkling baby blue eyes.

In real life, the Canadian actor started out as quite a romantic, entering a local air band contest to win the heart of his childhood crush, Melanie.

Video: Ryan Gosling lifts Al Roker, ‘Dirty Dancing’ style! (on this page)

"We did a duet and we did 'Uptown Girl.' At the end she had to kiss me, and we won. I won a Max Headroom towel and I won that experience of getting to work with her. So it worked out," the 30-year-old Gosling says. "That was probably pretty stupid. I got a lot of heat from it at school. But it was worth it."

Video: Watch the 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' trailer (on this page)

In the film, opening July 29, Gosling mentors hapless, recently separated Cal (played by Steve Carell) in the ways of picking up women at bars, giving him a trendy new look, a newfound confidence and ultimately a new lease on life.

Gosling got his start on "The Mickey Mouse Club," singing and dancing with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. He went on to earn critical acclaim for films including "Half Nelson" (2006), "Lars and The Real Girl" (2007) and last year's indie favorite "Blue Valentine," which garnered him his second Golden Globe nomination.

Story: Who's Emma Stone's celebrity girl crush?

Despite growing up in showbiz, the actor says he's still not used to being recognized in public. He says Canadian fans are the most vocal when they spot him.

Video: Emma Stone on 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'

"The other day I was walking down the street and this lady was like, 'Ryan, Canada!,'" and gestured to herself. "She was like, 'I'm from Canada.' I was like, 'Oh, OK. Me too.' It's like if you don't recognize the Canadian in them they're upset. It's like we're Highlanders, you know? We're all just supposed to know when we're in the same vicinity."

Story: 'Crazy' star Carell uncomfortable with fame

Gosling, who recently moved to New York from Los Angeles, says choosing roles is more like a "compulsion" than an art.

"In interviews they always ask you why you did things: Why'd you make that movie? Why'd you do that? I don't really know. And the best way I can describe it is either like dancing — song comes on and you want to dance. You don't know why, you just want to, so you do," he explains. "I just always wanted to make movies. And I don't really know why, I'm just compelled to do it."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Steve Carell

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  1. Friends without benefits

    Steve Carell teams up with Keira Knightley to find his high school sweetheart before the world comes to an end in 2012's "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." (Focus Features) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Red-carpet pose

    Carell poses on the red carpet at the premiere of "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" in June 2012 in L.A. (John Shearer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Hitting the keynote

    In a 2012 keynote speech at Princeton University's class day, Carell spoke to the graduates about their future. As he recalled on TODAY, "I told them in essence, 'You are young, and because of that you are wrong.'" (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Good night and good luck

    Carell said good-bye to "The Office" in 2011 when his characte, Michael Scott, relocated to Colorado to help his fiancee care for her ailing parents. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Stupid is as stupid does

    "Crazy, Stupid, Love." from 2011 gave Carell a chance to shine as a dramatic and comedic lead whose wife, played by Julianne Moore, cheats on him with a co-worker, played by Kevin Bacon. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Dorky dinner

    In "Dinner for Schmucks," Carell, left, with co-star Jemaine Clement, plays an IRS employee whose hobby is building dioramas featuring taxidermied mice. That helps make him the perfect guest for a dinner where the goal is to show up with the biggest idiot. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Daddy supervillain

    Carell provided the vaguely Eastern European-tinged voice of supervillain Gru in 2010's 3-D adventure, "Despicable Me." His battle to steal the moon and triumph over a villain nemesis gets waylaid by three orphan girls who want him to adopt them. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Out on the town

    Two comedy stars combined when Carell starred with Tina Fey in 2010's "Date Night," playing suburban parents who try to spice up their life and stumble into trouble. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Comedy couple

    Carell and wife Nancy arrive at the Emmys in 2009. She had a recurring role on "The Office" as Carell's character's realtor and short-time girlfriend, had a cameo in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and appeared with him in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" in 2012. The couple have two children, Annie and Johnny. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. An 'Office' anniversary

    Rainn Wilson, Carell and other members of the cast of "The Office" celebrated the show's 100th episode with a giant cake in April 2009. Carell announced in 2010 that he was leaving the show after one more season. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Playing it Smart

    Carell starred as spy Maxwell Smart in 2008's "Get Smart," the big-screen film based on the popular 1960s spy parody series. The film resurrected many of the film's gags, including the famous shoe phone. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Reality bites

    Carell starred in the title role in 2007's "Dan in Real Life," about an advice columnist who could use some advice himself. (Touchstone Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Staying afloat

    "Evan Almighty" is the 2007 sequel to "Bruce Almighty," giving Carell the starring role Jim Carrey played in the first film. Carell's character believes the Lord is telling him to build an ark a la Noah, and perseveres even though others tell him he is crazy. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Hooray for Ricky

    Carell, center, didn't win an Emmy at the 2007 awards, but he joined Jon Stewart, left, and Stephen Colbert in an exuberant celebration when actual lead comedy actor winner Ricky Gervais wasn't there to accept his award. Gervais, who plays Carell's role on the British version of "The Office," won for his portrayal of Andy Millman on "Extras." (John Shearer / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Hamming it up

    Carell provided the voice of Hammy the hyperactive squirrel in 2006's "Over the Hedge." When the DVD was released that fall, Hammy had his own short film on the disc. (DreamWorks Animation) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Golden boy

    Carell won a Golden Globe award for his role as bumbling boss Michael Scott in NBC's "The Office" in 2006. The starring TV role allowed Carell to branch out into a successful movie career. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Sunshine day

    Carell also starred in the quirky 2006 film "Little Miss Sunshine," about a family traveling to a children's beauty pageant in a VW Microbus. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Hitting the wall

    Will Ferrell, left, and John C. Reilly, in character from their film, "Talladega Nights," put the squeeze on Carell while presenting him with an award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Lordy, Lordy, life at 40

    Carell's breakout hit was 2005's "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which the actor co-wrote. He plays Andy Stitzer, a simple man who works at an electronics store. When his co-workers find out he's a virgin, they vow to help him lose his virginity, and trouble ensues. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Stay classy, San Diego

    Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy, right, earned most of the attention in 2004's "Anchorman," but Carell also played a memorable part, as Brick Tamland, a dim weatherman with a dark side. Asked whether he would hold a celebrity golf tournament again, he replied "No, too many people died last year." (DreamWorks Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. World's best boss

    Carell's blustering Michael Scott, manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper in Scranton, Pa., was one of television's most memorable bosses. He looked the part, but once he opened hismouth, it was evident he was in over his head. Or, as he put it, "I guess the atmosphere that I've tried to create here is that I'm a friend first and a boss second, and probably an entertainer third." Carell played Scott from 2005-2011. (Justin Lubin / NBC via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. When news breaks, we fix it

    Carell was a correspondent on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" from 1999-2004. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Early days

    Carell, center back row, was a member of the famed Second City comedy troupe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Carell also taught improv classes at Second City, and later married one of his students, Nancy Walls, who was a member of the "Saturday Night Live" cast from 1995-1996. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: Ryan Gosling lifts Al Roker, ‘Dirty Dancing’ style!

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